JOE AND THE SKYSCRAPER by Dietrich Neumann


Age Range: 6 - 10
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A real boy, a real building, and the process through which that building soared floor-by-floor into the sky make for a dramatic entry in the Adventures in Architecture series. The superimposed cartoon of Joe on a black-and-white photograph of real workers may mislead readers into thinking that this book is about a fictional character’s involvement in the construction of the Empire State Building. In fact, Joe was a young man from Brooklyn, just 16 when he went to work as a waterboy on the then-tallest building in the world. He met workers, from the Native-American Mohawk steelworkers to crane operators, masons, carpenters, and finish workers, people whom readers also see in tremendously affecting archival photographs. Joe also met the building’s architect, William Lamb, and the photographer and later children’s book author Lewis Hine, but he only glimpsed the “governor,” failed presidential candidate Al Smith, who successfully raised this building in the depths of the Great Depression. The book’s fascinating information makes it a felicitous companion to David Macaulay’s Unbuilding, especially in the details of how the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel had to be torn down to make way for the gleaming new skyscraper. (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 3-7913-2103-X
Page count: 28pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999